17 October 2016

Controlling software costs


Cutting software licensing costs while enhancing the security of data and applications

In a recently published report, Gartner analysts point out that companies can reduce their software costs by as much as 30 percent when they follow three best practices for managing software licenses. Given that Gartner also forecasts that global software spending in 2016 will amount to $332 billion, the potential savings are also very large.

In addition to using automated license management tools, Gartner recommends reducing software costs through optimizing software configurations and by recycling software licenses. We would agree that a thorough review of your use of licensing and the configuration of your user roles can make a big difference in reducing software costs. A company we know recently saved €250,000 by doing just that by using our solution, To-Increase Dynamic Security Management.

How can you reduce software costs while making data and applications more secure?

Provision users with the lowest-tier role that delivers the functionality they need

The standard configuration in many ERP and other software systems assigns users by default to the highest and most expensive license tier. That probably gives at least some of your users access to capabilities they don’t require. It means unnecessary costs and is also a security gap, especially if they also can interact with sensitive company data such as intellectual property. Try going the other way and see how many users can accomplish everything they need to do with the least costly type of license. Take them one level up only if that is not the case. For example, if you are evaluating your roles and licensing for Microsoft Dynamics AX, determine how many users are well provisioned with self-serve client access licenses (CAL) before stepping up to task CALs, functional CALs, and enterprise CALs for your power users.

In Microsoft Dynamics AX, you also have the ability to define roles with their own, custom-defined access to ERP functionality. You can reconfigure certain roles, or create new roles, to provide them with just the capabilities they require, and, at the same time, keep security at an optimal level while minimizing license costs. Dynamic Security Management keeps this effort manageable.

Audit roles to keep them aligned with process realities

Throughout the lifecycle of your ERP and other business systems, the company changes and evolves. Processes and roles in your technology infrastructure may also need to adjust to remain in sync with current business needs. Therefore, we recommend running the task recorder in Microsoft Dynamics AX from time to time to document how activities happen within your processes and plan any appropriate adjustments in your roles’ capabilities and access levels. Gathering evidence this way to audit your roles is a good practice to keep them aligned with actual, shifting business requirements and ensure that users work effectively with your ERP system and other software resources. At the same time, you can keep strengthen security and benefit from potential license cost savings.

It’s also a good idea to review your system roles and their access levels when you perform major software upgrades or integrate new software tools with your ERP system. If you use Dynamic Security Management, the solution considers Microsoft Dynamics AX and any ISV solutions that augment it holistically. You can then validate and define your roles’ capabilities, and control their security levels and licensing costs, in the context of all the software that facilitates your business processes. These are the main steps of the process:

- You use the Microsoft Dynamics AX task recorder to record the tasks and activities a user performs, simply by running through them.

- Dynamic Security Management records the complete details of these tasks, and also notes what level of access is needed to make that workflow possible.

- It then relies on that information to validate roles that already exist, to recommend the roles that can meet your needs with minimal changes to their access levels, or to help you create new roles specifically for the business processes you documented.

As you update roles and processes, you may well be able to make licensing more cost-effective and augment the security of the application by eliminating needless access to data and capabilities. You can also connect your task recorder findings and Dynamic Security Management with your business process management (BPM) efforts in To-Increase RapidValue to make sure the company’s process model and strategy are based on current practices.

Review your license inventory for poorly used licenses

Are there licenses that your company has already purchased but that are not being fully used? This is the case in many organizations. When you need to bring new users into a software system or add capabilities to existing user accounts, these partially dormant licenses are invaluable. You can take advantage of them to accomplish more while remaining within your current license limits. Realigning the real needs of your roles with licenses and shifting underused licenses to the people who need them can greatly reduce and delay the need for additional license acquisitions. Again, the idea is to settle users at the most economical and properly featured license level that meets their requirements instead of over-provisioning them.

If you would like to control software costs and boost the security of your data and applications, let’s talk. Please get in touch with me or simply contact To-Increase.

Luciano Cunha
Luciano Cunha,
Luciano Cunha,
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

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